If you don’t know anything about autism, I’ll share one thing for you to always remember:
It is not a cookie-cutter condition.
When people say, “My child is on the spectrum,” it means exactly that. There are varying degrees of autism, and every child is such an individual, as are his or her challenges.
In our case, with Asperger’s Syndrome, we’ve had a tough year at public school with bullying issues and little support from administrators and teachers. And my child is very aware that he is different. In his case, his place on the “spectrum” is that he is highly functioning and also very in tune that he’s not always perceiving social cues from his peers correctly.
As his parent, I’m always on the receiving end of comments and attitudes from others who don’t understand him or my parenting decisions that are tailored to his needs.
And you know what? That’s okay. Because at the end of the day, when all is said and done, I tell my child, “You have a beautiful mind, and Mom is going to help other people understand it and appreciate you.”
I suppose that’s one reason I opened this blog up to the public. Originally, I was just going to post some photos and captions for grandparents and aunts and uncles. But then I got to thinking about it. I realized that our experience was significant, not just for how Clearwater Marine Aquarium and its beautiful animals affected Neil, but also because it helps for others to see and understand why.
These photos below pretty much sum it up.
You see my child, standing off by himself, watching the dolphins swim in their tanks.
The amazing and calming effects on him were profound. The ability to see and communicate with a creature so gorgeous, uplifting. The compassion and energy devoted by the aquarium’s staff, encouraging.
But most of all, the chance to just be at rest, to sit and watch dolphins glide gracefully, jump playfully, chirp happily and gaze intently …. simply soul-enriching.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our tale about “Dolphin Tale,” told from our perspective. Feel free to ask questions about autism or our experience.
And thanks for giving us the privilege of sharing it with you.
–Heidi and Neil.